Science  08 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6159, pp. 678
  1. More Incoming!


    A witness's photo of the February 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor.


    February's window-shattering explosion of a meteor over Chelyabinsk, Russia, suggests such encounters are far more frequent than astronomers expected, scientists report this week in Nature.

    Planetary scientist Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, and his colleagues used the Chelyabinsk airburst—observed by video cameras, seismographs, satellite sensors, and infrasound detectors—to calibrate the 20-year-long record of airbursts from incoming asteroids. The team found that Earth-impacting asteroids 10 to 50 meters in size have arrived about 10 times the rate estimated from telescopic searches alone.

    Planetary astronomer Alan Harris, a NASA consultant in California who came up with that low, search-based estimate, acknowledges that the rate could be several times higher. But 10 times higher? Too few large airbursts like Chelyabinsk, he says, have been detected to persuade him that the threat is that great.

  2. Early Music Lessons Reduce Hearing Loss

    It's a well-worn tale of woe: After spending thousands of dollars on music lessons and instruments, parents often watch in dismay as once-coveted flutes, clarinets, and violins are unceremoniously abandoned. Such investments in early musical education aren't wasted, however, a new study in this week's issue of The Journal of Neuroscience suggests. Even after going decades without practicing their instruments, adults aged 55 to 76 who studied music for 4 to 14 years when they were young have better "neural timing" than people who never played an instrument, researchers at Northwestern University report.

    Neural timing is a type of auditory processing that is key to the ability to interpret speech, and it often declines with age. The more years that participants in the study had spent playing an instrument, the crisper their hearing was even 40 years later, says neuroscientist Nina Kraus, who led the study. Although previous studies have shown that playing music can improve hearing skills, this is the first to show such long-term benefits, she says.

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